NCAA March Madness is just around the corner. In homage to the great annual event we’re running a Portland Trail Blazers bracket here at Blazer’s Edge this month. The idea came from an article from Dia Miller and Dave Deckard, detailing the Blazers they’d most like to see one more time. The piece was fun and well-received, so we’re making a bracket of 16 candidates and letting you vote for your favorites during these January weeks. Eventually we’ll see which player you’d most like to bring back for one more go.
Here are the conventions:
- We’re not including Bill Walton and Clyde Drexler, since everyone should want them back for overwhelming talent and impact purposes. They count as, “Anytime, Anywhere” legends.
- You can vote in the comments or on Twitter @blazersedge. We won’t get as many votes that way as if we just opened a poll, but the discussion is important as well.
- You don’t necessarily have to consider the current roster or the state of the team as you make your choices, but you can. You’re voting for the player you’d most love to see suit up for one more season. The qualities/memories of that individual player are the most important things. Helping the current team is a bonus which can weigh in your decision, but doesn’t have to.
- Sadly, we’ve lost some of the players on this list. We remember them with honor and thank their families for sharing them with us through basketball so we could appreciate and remember them.
- Go ahead and envision the best Blazers version of each player. That’s part of the fun!
Our final matchup of the first round features a pair of teammates with different skills but big impacts on the franchise, with memorable personalities to boot.
Expectations were muted for Terry Porter when he was drafted 24th overall in the 1985 NBA Draft. The Wisconsin-Stevens Point grad had spent much of his career playing in the frontcourt, a 6’3 center who would need to convert to point guard to have any chance in the NBA. With Clyde Drexler, Jim Paxson, and Darnell Valentine in the fold, Portland’s backcourt was already crowded. What did they want with an unproven, small-college rookie?
Porter served all of that right back to the doubters with a charcuterie board full of cheese and humble pie throughout his 17-year career, a full 10 of those seasons with the Trail Blazers. He became a two-time NBA All-Star, a fine shooter, and a capable defender courtesy of his surprising bulk and toughness.
Two characteristics typified Porter’s career more than any other.
He played smart, making the most of his gifts and most possessions. He didn’t stay in the league for just shy of two decades because he was the best player on the squad, but because he knew how to play. He averaged 9 or more assists in four seasons with the Blazers, topping 50% shooting from the field twice. Rounding up just slightly puts him at 40% shooting or above from the arc in 8 of his 17 seasons. He did it all and he did it well.
Porter was also known for the ice in his veins when the moment got big. Shooting free throws or jump shots, he didn’t let crunch time faze him. He ended up one of the most reliable members of the fantastic 1990’s squads that went to the NBA Finals twice and set the franchise record for regular-season wins.
Other point guards have been more skilled and put up better numbers, but Terry Porter has remained the franchise icon at the one spot for years. Watching him play behind, or maybe alongside, Damian Lillard would be a joy and would instantly solidify the lineup.
Instead of listing the things Cliff Robinson could do on the basketball court, it’d be easier to list the things he couldn’t do.
There’s nothing Cliff Robinson couldn’t do.
At 6’10, lithe and springy, Robinson spent his first couple years in the league playing every frontcourt position: small forward, power forward, and center. He could have played point guard too, except back in those days he never would have passed it. He was known for his defense and mobility, and would become a utility defender for five teams during his 18-year career, playing until the ripe old age of 40.
But Robinson wasn’t just a jack-of-all-trades. He mastered them too. Once the Clyde Drexler era began waning after the 1991-92 season, Robinson stepped to the fore as a star and scorer. He averaged 20.4 points for the Blazers over the next four seasons, shooting from everywhere on the floor, including the three-point arc, where he held and impressive 36% success rate over that same span. His career high in three-point percentage would come in 1998-99 with the Phoenix Suns, when he shot 41.7% beyond the arc.
Robinson would continue to alternate between center, power forward, and small forward throughout his career, depending on need and circumstance. He played them all well.
Sadly, we lost Uncle Cliffy in August of 2020, but could the Blazers have his prime-years incarnation back for a season, the impact on their current lineup would be significant. His huge defensive impact would pay dividends immediately. His scoring power would balance out the floor. He’d move defenses like a modern stretch four and patrol the paint like an old-school five...this time with far fewer 300-pound 7-footers to back him down.
So how about it? If you had to choose between Cliff Robinson and Terry Porter to bring back for one last hurrah with the current Blazers, who’s your choice? Register in the comment section below or on Twitter!